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Books / Fatwah / November 1, 2011
By Connor Kilpatrick

The first rule of debate: Never accept your opponent’s characterization of his own position. But for decades, liberals–in their perpetual Nerf-war against conservatives–have done just the opposite. While conservatives bloviate about traditionalism (Buckley), skepticism (Burke), sobriety (Taft), and order (Mill), liberals are the first to bobblehead in agreement. “Yes,” they say over paté and pinot at Davos, “That’s you.”

Yet no matter how many laws they break or billions they loot, how many phantoms they conjure, how many social ties they sever, how many innocents they imprison, torture and execute, no matter how many foreign monsters they champion, no matter how much they scream that two-plus-two equals five, and no matter how much they double-down on crazed schemes while swearing it’ll all be different this time, the liberal–dutiful little poodle that he is–still wags his head. “Yes, yes. Calm, measured, skeptical conservatism.” “Calm, measured, skeptical.” Who does that sound more like to you: Barry Goldwater or Noam Chomsky?

So it’s no great surprise that the New York Times–that great bastion of spineless bourgeois liberalism–hates Corey Robin’s new book The Reactionary Mind. So much so that the author, Sheri Berman, dubs Robin the left-wing Ann Coulter. But we can forgive Berman. If her crowd was to actually accept Robin’s arguments, they’d be faced with two options: 1. accept that they are little more than chumps basking in the same cushy privileges forged by the long conservative counterrevolution or 2. tip over the dinner table and drive a salad fork into David Brooks’s eye-socket.

Robin’s thesis is simple: ignore the Right-wing taxonomy. Conservatism–despite the seemingly incompatible respective ideologies of free-marketeers, slavers, neocons, neofascists, Buckleys, Federalists, Bloombergians, traditionalists, Tea Baggers, Randians, McCarthyists, libertarians, Birchers, Goldbugs, Jesus Freaks, J .Edgars, pro-lifers—has been, in reality, firmly united behind a single mission since the French Revolution: the creation of new regimes of privilege and domination in the face of democratic threats.

Conservatism, as Robin states, has never been about “taking us back” but about “great leaps forward”–from the ashes of the Ancien Régime into the arms of a new one of the conservative’s making. Conservatives aren’t looking for exact “restoration,” but radical new constructions—building new regimes of power and domination to replace the old and unworthy elites–unworthy, to conservatives, because they failed to beat back a democratic threat. Robin quotes Burke, “It is truth that cannot be concealed; in ability, in dexterity, in the distinctness of their views, the Jacobins are our superiors.”

Burke despised the monarchy for being unfit to rule, Goldwater saved most of his hellfire for the Rockefeller-dominated GOP, and now, Sarah Palin bemoans the “crony capitalists” and “Ivy Leaguers” that run the show. As Robin states, the GOP is now the party of “Scalia, D’Souza, Gonzalez, and Yoo.” This need for reinvention via the injection of fresh blood has long been a cornerstone of the movement, which makes it more–not less–accepting of outsiders willing to throw-in for the cause: “Maistre was from Savoy, Burke from Ireland. Alexander Hamilton was born out of wedlock in Nevis and rumored to be part black. Disraeli was a Jew, as are many of the neoconservatives who helped transform the Republican Party from a cocktail party in Darien.” It follows that 21st century Conservatism is Dick Cheney’s lesbian spawn going on TV and calling the president a pussy because he refuses to torture enemies of the state.

“Conservatism,” writes Robin, “is not a commitment to limited government and liberty–or a wariness of change, a belief in evolutionary reform, or a politics of virtue. These may be the byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and everchanging modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose. Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force–the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere.”

“Freedom,” “Liberty,” these were the battle cries of American Radicals–Wobblies who got their skulls cracked open by the Chicago PD, feminists who said “fuck you” to a lifetime of bad sex and black-eyes, Midwestern abolitionists who went to war against slavers, reds from Brooklyn who shipped off to Spain in the 1930s, black men and women who got their eardrums punctured by firehoses while dogs ripped their legs to shreds.

But a ‘winger shouting “Freedom!”? Give me a fucking break. This is the rhetoric of Jacobins recycled and reloaded into the right-wing arsenal. Forty years ago, it would’ve sounded as absurd coming from them as their charge of “racist” sounds today whenever they hurl it at the NAACP or Planned Parenthood (remember: the 21st century Pro-Life line against abortion is that it’s “a genocide against African Americans.”). And let’s not forget that whey-faced little shit James O’Keefe brags about using “Saul Alinsky tactics.”

“Because freedom is the lingua franca of modern politics,” Robin writes, “conservatives have had ‘a sound enough instinct not to attack’ it. Instead, they have made freedom the stalking horse of inequality, and inequality the stalking horse of submission.” In other words, the freedom to fire at whim, the freedom of a fetus over the mother, and,most recently,the freedom of corporate campaign cash to flow as it pleases.

So despite the well-oiled coif, Reagan wasn’t a return to the 1950s—capital controls? 90% top marginal tax rate? Median wages that supported a single-earner household? Nearly 1 out of 3 workers unionized? That’s the socioeconomic framework of the America of 1950s. Reagan and his crew were out to build something entirely new. Even Jim Crow looks quaint next to Reagan’s multi-billion dollar crusade for racial purification (i.e. The War on Drugs).

As Garret Keizer put it in Harper’s, Reagan “will be seen as the last of the California hippies, a man who told us that if we just let the markets run wild and the Magic Bus of juggernaut capitalism go barrel-assing down the road with its freak flag flying all would be groovy and out of sight. What was his ‘Morning in America’ bit but a cover of “Aquarius”; what was his presidency but the last act of Hair?”

But in a truly sick little twist, the liberals have–in recent years–started cribbing stale right-wing rhetoric, dutifully neglecting any call for a “Morning in America” of their own. Now, it’s the liberals who are repeating all that Taft-era bullshit. They’ve long since turned up their noses at the grand projects of emancipation, forward marches into a glorious future (“didn’t Lenin, like, kill people?”), and have instead begun to squirt out the very lies that conservatives told about themselves fifty years ago–whether it’s Carter, Mondale, Clinton or Obama wagging his finger about balancing budgets or some anarcho-liberal down at Zuccotti calling for the return of “mom and pop shops.” (I got news for you: mom and pop were among the first to screech about OSHA and the EPA and never cared much for “the Coloreds” either.) The difference is that conservative elites—in practice—never believed any of this shit, whereas liberals gobble it all up and ask for seconds. Hell, half the chapters out of Pat Buchanan’s last book read like Naderite manifestos.

You’d almost forget that anti-Communism is, in itself, a militant and internationalist ideology all its own–one with a 20th century bodycount that rivals the bloodiest work of Stalin. This is wholly understood in conservative James Ellroy’s pathologically gory “Underworld USA” trilogy but flies over the heads of liberals, perhaps because some of their biggest champions–JFK, Orwell, Truman, etc.–bought into it whole-heartedly.

But there’s another component to Robin’s argument that makes the Times crowd squish up in their khakis: how exactly do conservatives get the masses on-board in the first place? Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?, the preferred liberal Rosetta Stone to unlocking the right-wing brain, suggests that non-elite rightwingers simply get “tricked” into supporting conservative policies. The Big Scary GOP demolishes labor unions with one hand, but draws crosshairs on Tiller the Baby-killer with the other. It’s the only way Frank can explain such “irrationality.”

Robin calls bullshit on that. Non-elite conservatives–the Red State bubbas that have cursed this land for so long–reap very real material rewards, but they’re rewards which fly in the face of the cheery “every one’s good at heart” worldview of liberalism.

Conservatism offers them something Robin brilliantly calls “democratic feudalism.” In other words, dominion over your “lessers” in the private spheres of the workplace (middle-management tyrants) and the home (lockin’ down the wife and daughter’s ladyparts): “the most visible effort of the GOP since the 2010 midterm election has been to curtail the rights of employees and the rights of women.” This is the link between the Santorums and the Pauls of the world–one which Reason magazine, the Mises Institute and other appendages of the supposedly “anti culture-war” libertarian propaganda circuit work very hard to obscure.

Robin points out that the U.S. stands alone in the Western world–as it does these days on most everything awful–in the enormous size of its middle-management and supervisory workforce. “Every man a king!” sounds great, but who plays “the serfs”? That would be the usual roster of women, immigrants, and all those who stink of poor–well, poorer than the “little conservative king” handing out the pink slips. The hedge-funder gets the capital gains tax cut and the Walmart Assistant Manager gets to hold the livelihoods of dozens (and their families) in the palm of his hand–permitted to inflict an economic violence on each and every one that, in some ways, makes a public flogging look like a demerit.

So it’s no surprise that Robin locates the purest manifestation of American “democratic feudalism” (and thus, conservatism) in the ideology of the plantation lords. “The democratic promise of slavery,” writes Robin, is “the fact that it put the possibility of personal mastery within the reach of every white man…This was not just propaganda: by 1860, there were 400,000 slaveholders in the South, making the American master class one of the most democratic in the world. The slaveholders repeatedly attempted to pass laws encouraging whites to own at least one slave and even considered granting tax breaks to facilitate such ownership. Their thinking, in the words of one Tennessee farmer, was that ‘the minute you put it out of the power of common farmers to purchase a Negro man or woman…you make him an abolitionist at once.”

But the slavers were not without an egalitarian streak, however perverse it may have been. Take the loathsome Vice President John C. Calhoun: “With us the two great divisions of society are not the rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.” Fittingly, Calhoun is, today, a hero to the contemporary American conservative and his name adorns over a dozen schools across the country.

Small wonder then than Rep. Ron Paul–the arch-conservative with whom liberals are supposed to find some common cause—recently called neo-Confederate historian Thomas DiLorenzo to testify before Congress. DiLorenzo’s a member of the League of the South, an outfit that calls for another southern secession and the restoration of rule under “Anglo-Celts.” DiLorenzo, an economist at Loyola University, just so happens to be a champion of Austrian School of Economics, which, of course, is all about “freedom.”

Despite libertarian efforts to recruit the young and liberal-minded into the flock with promises of ending the wars, closing Guantanamo and calling off the cozy relationship with the Likudniks, The Reactionary Mind makes it clear that there’s no fundamental difference between any of these right-wing breeds, and thus common ground is neither possible nor desirable, particularly with the libertarians. “When the libertarian looks out upon society,” writes Robin, “he does not see isolated individuals; he sees private, often hierarchical, groups, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees.”


So why do liberals let conservatives get away with this shit? Where’s their battle cry of freedom? Let me let you in on a little secret: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death”? Liberals don’t believe a word of it. Not one fucking word. They’ve long since abandoned the emancipatory call of the Enlightenment. “The common American liberal today,” says Roger D. Hodge in his scathing review of Obama’s first two years The Mendacity of Hope, “is mostly interested in lifestyle–and the not inconsiderable virtues of tolerance, compassion, decency, and fair play. Lifestyle liberals tend to express proper environmental pieties and feel very strongly about respecting the rights of racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities. All of these perfectly admirable liberal qualities and attitudes…but as modes of action and behavior they do not necessarily follow from a coherent political philosophy or a theory of government.”

But, says the mealy-mouthed “progressive,” Obama, Clinton, “they’re not real liberals.” Of course they are! Liberals make no challenge against a society’s given socioeconomic framework. Instead, liberalism promises only to open up that very same framework to the greatest number of people. That’s it. Hence Obama’s “free market solutions” to education and health care. Sure, when Keynesian-welfare state was the name of the game, we got Medicare and the Great Society, but count that model among conservatism’s many scalps as they rode the 1970s neoliberal wave to total victory.

So despite all that bullshit about federalism and limited government, Conservatism is thus revolutionary, crusading, impassioned, combative, and–let’s face it–creative. Basically, it is everything that liberalism is not. Both conservatism and genuine Leftism calls for a grand societal project that terrifies the liberal.

Of course a liberal doesn’t want to face any of this: that at least a fifth of the population needs to be fought and defeated for anything close to “progress” on those supposed “Enlightenment values” to take hold. Because that means, oh nos!, a fight! Combat! Saying “fuck you” instead “we agree to disagree!”

Robin believes, as I do, that the current incarnation of the conservative movement is approaching its terminus–though I’m fairly certain that the death rattle will be loud, long, and bloody. Without a significant democratic challenge (the labor struggles of the 1930s, the revolts of the 1960s, etc.), conservatism has nowhere to go. It’s been too successful. “Loss–real social loss, of power and position, privilege and prestige–is the mustard seed of conservative innovation. What the right suffers from today is not loss but success.”

The Millennial, living with the rents, sans health insurance, and buried beneath tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt is–according to a recent Rasmussen poll–split on socialism vs. capitalism. I don’t think I’m being overly optimistic when I say that my generation’s gonna be a tough “get” for the GOP. I don’t know a single one that isn’t itching to go to war with Republicans and baby-boomers of all stripes (perhaps this explains the recent fad in New York City of blue Union Army caps.) Which is why the multi-billion dollar libertarian think tank empire is pushing the Paultard phenomenon so hard. “At least,” they say, “he’s against the war.”

But soon, even Dr. Paul’s mystique will wither and die, and it will be up to the conservative true believers to carry the fire to initiate their next grand project. My money’s on Andrew Sullivan, the supposed “very serious” self-described Burkean conservative (and diehard Thatcherite) who’s 1. Irish 2. Catholic 3. gay and 4. a devout–to the level of mystic—Obamican (remember: Burke was a Whig, not a Tory). He’s pals with all the young DC liberals and even has sex advice columnist Dan Savage fill in for him from time to time. His conservative tentacles ever a-twitter, he ditched Bush just a few months before the rest of the ruling class did. He has distaste for the “shrill,” and falls back on a sunny and congenial disposition. (He responded to Robin’s book by simply re-posting The New York Times review. Cut a little close to the bone, I’m guessing.) Last week, a friend of mine enthusiastically pointed out a recent article by Sullivan in support of Occupy Wall Street, countering my skepticism by saying that Sullivan had “changed his mind” and now supported the young protesters whole-heartedly. I checked. By the third paragraph, he’d managed to gather up both the Tea Baggers and the Occupiers into his good graces, admitting that he shares both group’s frustrations, namely, you guessed it: “entitlements.” Well-bowled, you wily fuck.

Maybe I’m being a little too hard on liberals. After all, a liberal is fundamentally a more “decent” person than a conservative. And there’s something to be said for decency. But good manners, sympathy for the powerless, and a congenial disposition are useless in beating back conservatism after its gone hegemonic–and who could possibly deny that it has? Maybe that’s the most frightening lesson from Robin’s book, and what makes it all so hard for liberals to take: that the fight is over, the battle is lost, and the bastards won. And if we wanna do something about it, and it’s starting to look like maybe we do, we might have to summon up some of that dangerous radical fire that’s propelled every worthwhile step we’ve taken towards a more civil and egalitarian society.

Connor Kilpatrick is a Senior Writer for Jacobin.

Would you like to know more? Dissect your neighborhood reactionary by reading Mark Ames’ “We, The Spiteful” and “Why The American Right Never Liked V. S. Naipaul.” Also, read the great Dr. John Dolan’s savage takedown “Reagan’s Cheshire Snarl.”


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Add your own

  • 1. jonnym  |  November 1st, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I live in New York City and am completely unaware of this “blue Union Army cap” fad you mentioned.

  • 2. hey joe  |  November 1st, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Where is the War Nerd?

  • 3. Aaron  |  November 1st, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    hey joe: Probably turning big rocks into little ones after having been convicted of reactionism.

  • 4. doctor k  |  November 1st, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    jacobin. great. next thing you know brecher will be on verso and ames will be babbling about habermas.

  • 5. Trevor  |  November 1st, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    The point about reactionary politicians granting petty tyrant powers to their middle class supporters sounds an awful lot like Ames’s arguments in Going Postal. Nice to see another writer who’s not afraid to face reality.

  • 6. Miguel  |  November 1st, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    American liberals always seemed mealy-mouthed.

  • 7. ☭ mouse ☭  |  November 1st, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    good article

  • 8. zakattak  |  November 1st, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    as a local oligarch, i take great issue with the accuracy of this article, specifically the section describing today’s house boys as being more governable than their recent predecessors. although the economic argument laid out in this article are valid, society tangentially (if at all) abides by the “rational” rules that govern economics – it’s mostly culture that affects economics, not the other way around. today’s sans-culottes are much less “team players” than their counterparts of yesteryear – most of them were taught since age 7 that they are the world’s most unique snowflake and the world ends at their navel. though they’re blessed with over-abundant self confidence (and in a country where “fake it till you make it” is considered valid career advice that’s no mean asset) unlike any dog of average intelligence, they are unable to heel.

  • 9. hon kee mufo  |  November 1st, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    liberals are scum, conservatives aren’t worth the saliva to be spat upon–but i’ve too depressed, lazy, and busy to go down to the local occupation more than once. c’est la vie.

  • 10. helplesscase  |  November 1st, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Capitalist Realism: we’ve euthanized all the alternatives.

  • 11. DeeboCools  |  November 1st, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    This article makes me want to self-immolate.

  • 12. the dude  |  November 1st, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    @#8 zakattak: Thats why you put a gold star on their tps reports….duh

  • 13. Flatulissimo  |  November 1st, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I’m always skeptical when there’s a new addition to the eXiled stable o’ writers. I’ve never seen this “Jacobin” rag before – will investigate. Before having done so, let me say that this article makes me cautiously optimistic. I’m pissed off and pushing forty and I would like nothing better than to see some youngsters with some fire to upturn the boomer hegemony. They always had those my age outnumbered.

    In the meantime, how about some decent alt-texts for these photos?

  • 14. Zirb  |  November 1st, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    So you’re saying that conservatives want pretty much the same thing as yesterday, plus more power, but lie when using old freedom-loving language… Well, duh, that’s the definition of *conserving* power, and with humans involved, there will be self-perpetuating growth. And of course they’ll use the same language, pretending to believe in it. No politician is held up to what they say, so they exploit the easiest manipulation.

    But you make an even bigger claim… that the liars *leading* this movement are the same as the followers, and from there you then equate freedom-wanting with conservatism and then with basically evil. You can say the people are idiots to follow the power-hungry leaders, but it’s too much to say that when someone likes freedom from a territorial monopoly on force (a government aka the whole “monopoly on force” thing is what gives me away for the libertard that I am) that they consciously or subconsciously want a rich oligarchy to rule over them. It might be too much to say, but then I’m too much of a yeoman oligarch-toe-worshipper…so go figure.

  • 15. super390  |  November 1st, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    For thirty years, I’ve sensed that something was essentially wrong with the American concept of liberty, and I’ve had to stomach the increasing derangement of American political consciousness searching for the answer.

    I think “democratic feudalism” might be the term I need to wrap up all my observations:

    1. The earliest defenders of slavery after the Revolution used the Athenian argument; that a republic required slavery because the voters would be too busy having to both understand politics AND clean up after themselves.

    2. Mary Chestnut, the friend of Jefferson Davis and one of the most vituperative critics of her Southern society, wrote that the plantation owners viewed themselves as “moral models”, like “the Patriarchs of old”, who ruled over their wives, hired men and mistresses. This refers to the Hebrew society of the Old Testament, and thus touches on many connections in modern American extremism that Margaret Atwood brought forward in “The Handmaiden’s Tale”.

    3. Daniel Boone, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh. Living the American Dream.

    4. A libertarian friend of mine’s in college said he once got into a tight spot and so he went to the chancellor’s office and asked for his “white man’s money”. I think he was kidding. Because the only payment my ancestors ever needed was the right to beat the crap out of someone else’s human property just for the fun of it.

    5. In his “Notes on the Commonwealth of Virginia”, Jefferson said that the slaves would have to be freed, but then immediately they also would have to be removed from Virginia. Apparently, he understood that his beloved republic of yeomen farmers could do anything but share power.

    6. Jay Gould: “I can always hire half the working class to shoot the other half.”

    “Every man a king”? In America, the truth is “every white man a henchman.” What happens when the henchman sees his master grow weak and decadent, or look to flee to fresh lands to rape?

  • 16. super390  |  November 1st, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    The part about American conservatism actually being in search of new forms of oppression and inequality is not unusual for those who talk of returning to the past. Hitler and Himmler, Pol Pot, and the Ayatollah Khomeini built their sales pitch on the superior Medieval past, in which unnatural and alien governance did not exist. Yet they seem to have relied on that all-purpose excuse of a “transitional period” in which those with special insight would have to tyrannize the general public until its contamination by alien ideas had been cleansed. Then big government could fade away.

    And yes, there are disciples of the New Apostolic Reformation, the cult of Palin and sponsor of Rick Perry’s prayer rally, who talk amongst themselves of a transitional period in America.

  • 17. Benito Blanco  |  November 1st, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Funny that Berman, ever the faint of heart liberal, finds Robin’s book too bile filled. John Derbyshire, a conservative who writes for the National Review, stated in his review of the book: “On the positive side, The Reactionary Mind at least does not snarl or sputter. It is a thoughtful, even-tempered sort of book.” And that “[Robin] really seems to harbor very little malice.” Of course Derbyshire is British, which might explain his tolerance for vituperation.

  • 18. 6626  |  November 1st, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    have you ever wondered if maybe the conservative is right

    maybe ‘freedom’ and ‘tolerance’, ‘compassion’, ‘decency’, ‘fair play’, maybe these simply aren’t human values. maybe we are simply not cut out for that.

    look, free will mathematically doesn’t exist. ‘tolerance’ and ‘compassion’ allow furries and video gamers and performance artists and anime people to proliferate. ‘decency’ is a line-drawing game, enforced with violence, that favors the majority at the expense of everyone else. ‘fair play’ is biologically/physically impossible and basically meaningless. maybe people will be cruel and ugly and murderous toward each other until they’re either assimilated into some kind of transhuman horror or all similar enough that it’s effectively the same or all dead.

    i mean, what if it’s not just that we are flawed, but that everything that we can possibly be is fundamentally unjust and foul? there’s no god, of course, but what if he’s evil?

    have you ever considered that maybe the universe is just an inherently ugly place and there’s nothing that can possibly be done because there’s nothing to be done because this is simply how the math works out?

    i hope not, but it’s something i’m afraid of.

  • 19. helplesscase  |  November 1st, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    @18: In one of Ames’s old articles, “Gas Middle America,” he talks about how the Right is better equipped to handle humanity: “The hardcore Christians, and the Republicans who use them, have a massive advantage over secular humanists because they know and believe that man is an evil, base creature.” The “emancipatory call of the Enlightenment” has produced some really great stuff, but a lot of our success comes from building separation between people and creating material comforts, which we have achieved through bleeding the Earth dry and oppression. The only “justice” I can see would result in shutting down human civilization, which no one is going to do because they: a. don’t want to leave their homes b. don’t want to get arrested c. could be easily co-opted with an extra $2/hr or d. would find themselves Predator drone’d if they were any way close to interfering with the operation. That being said, a few people taking to the streets is nice to see.

  • 20. matt  |  November 1st, 2011 at 11:22 pm


    Yes, it is a terrifying thought, but we might be able to do something. Let’s see if the OWS goes anywhere. We might be able to at least steer enough humans towards a better future by using what we can glean from what we know about human nature.

    Also, I’ve seen Jacobin magazine. They’re not fucking Jacobin’s. The Jacobin’s cut people’s fucking heads off. They went to war, they had a plan.

  • 21. noen  |  November 1st, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    “Both conservatism and genuine Leftism calls for a grand societal project that terrifies the liberal.”

    Uh, yeah. I don’t wish to live in either of your gulags. What the Left and the Right have in common are the rivers of blood that flowed in the 20th century to satisfy both of their insane political ideologies.

    The only people the Left hates more than right-wing reactionaries are Liberals. That’s because they recognize a kindred soul in the right-winger, his mirror image, and that is why the ranks of neoconservativism is populated with former trotskyites. Because, when you get right down to it, both the Right and the Left believe that history is an expression, a triumph, of power and the will. Both see politics as a means to an end only and never as an end in itself. That is why both despise Liberalism.

    And that is why both will always lose.

  • 22. noen  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 12:01 am

    6626 said: “free will mathematically doesn’t exist”

    I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the depth of ignorance on display. If there is one thing that free will or determinism are NOT is “mathematically certain”.

    “‘tolerance’ and ‘compassion’ […] favors the majority at the expense of everyone else”

    One way to know that you have gone right around the bend into lala land is when you are so politically extreme that you think compassion and tolerance are morally evil. Or that being fair is meaningless. Of course fairness would be perceived as irrelevant by someone who only wants power and to dominate others.

    “i mean, what if it’s not just that we are flawed, but that everything that we can possibly be is fundamentally unjust and foul?”

    This is called projection. Just because you are full of shit doesn’t mean everyone else is.

    “have you ever considered that maybe the universe is just an inherently ugly place”

    And still more projection. Any ugliness you see is merely a reflection.

    “have you ever wondered if maybe the conservative is right”

    Like everyone else they are a little bit right and a little bit wrong. The trick is in finding our where and about what exactly is a toughie. But there is one thing you can be sure of. If someone on the left or the right tells you they know for certain what is right, then you know they are full of it.

  • 23. Chekhov  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 1:06 am

    I think Killpatric is one of Dolan’d many aliases. Why? Because this article is well written and it contains Orwell bashing. Why does he hate Orwell? I have NO IDEA. (It can’t be that he hates the British so much, that any British icon won’t do for him. Does he hate William Blake, too?) Orwell should be everybodys big brother, not in the totalitarian context that he himself used it, but in a way that one admires somebody – in an ideal world that could be a real elder brother – who is intelligent, brave and honest. Orwell was a real progressive if there ever was a one. He believed in war against communism?? Hello? He got shot in the throat while fighting fascists in Spain. And in the midst of the fight, co-opertating with the communist, he realized that they were not such a nice bunch either.

    Orwell was a paradoxixal man. Who ever heard of anybody fighting so fiercely for something as ‘boring’ as social democracy? A guy fighting almost fanatically against fanatism. Plus he was one hell of a writer, who – as he said himself – sacrificed this great literary ability for ‘pampfelt writing’, simply because he fealt it was his dutu to warn the world of the totalitarian methods.

  • 24. Chekchow  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Did I really make all those typos, or did the Almighty Moderator just make me look even sillier than I actually am? I thought he only had a beef with talking-point-spewing libertarians. Or maybe I’m just a paranoid, dyslexic (?) non native speaker who hasn’t slept much.

  • 25. John Figler  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 4:56 am

    “Of course a liberal doesn’t want to face any of this: that at least a fifth of the population needs to be fought and defeated for anything close to “progress” on those supposed “Enlightenment values” to take hold. Because that means, oh nos!, a fight! Combat! Saying “fuck you” instead “we agree to disagree!””

    … The Second American Civil War will be soooo short…

  • 26. mookid  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 5:45 am

    The structuralist Roland Barthes wrote very similar things in “Mythologies”.

    According to Barthes the conservative has the advantage of appearing multifaceted because he just needs to preserve the current overall condition.

    He can use a lot of pathos or he can do it pseudo-scientifically by claiming that the current state is the natural order of things (or that we should have more deregulation so a “natural equilibrium” can happen).

    because the left is more specific and problem-oriented their rhetorics automatically look limited, nonheroic and dry in comparison. they cant just switch to a fresh mythology every few decades. so they are easy prey for the media: “they are saying the same stuff as 100 years ago, will they ever become modern?”

  • 27. Jedi Mind Trick  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Here I thought I was the only one who wants to turn political discourse into a shooting war.

    Vote with a rifle.

  • 28. matt  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 8:07 am


    “The only people the Left hates more than right-wing reactionaries are Liberals. That’s because they recognize a kindred soul in the right-winger, his mirror image,”

    When the left forms a circular firing squad, it’s always the “liberals” aka the moderate upperclassmen that Gramsci described, who start it, and then complain about…please ignore the Marxists in the corner…the circular firing squad that the left builds. Obama, Rahm Immanuel, may occasionally talk left-ish, but they are there to keep those people in line, and from accomplishing something.

    “and that is why the ranks of neoconservativism is populated with former trotskyites.”
    They were whores who realized there was more money in the right. They get you six figures and cool parties, what the hell does the left offer? a sense of self-actualization?


    oh for christsake! The reason everyone knows about Dolan’s problem with Orwell is the article he wrote where he explained it in detail
    The guy had a gimmick of using leftism to disguise the fact that at heart he was a bitter old Anglophile imperialist who just saw a niche market to be filled.


    “have you ever wondered if maybe the conservative is right”

    If the topic that comes up is Guns or Economic Nationalism then yes, yes they usually are.

  • 29. Chekhov  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 9:17 am

    @ Noen

    Yeah, I read it long time back, it sucked: it a) didn’t convince me of Orwell RACISTIC anglophilia, and b) even if he had said something not quite politically correct about the burmese, who cares.I don’t think the War Nerd article on Indo-Pakistan conflict (fag vs fag) proves that Dolan is racist towards south asians or a fag basher. And to lump Orwell together with a douchbag like Hitchens is just ridiculous.

    BTW I like the way you are referring to the said article like it was from the little red book. (I don’t mean this in a sneering way)

  • 30. helplesscase  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 12:08 pm


    I think you’re right. Very few people want to be part of a “project” or “experiment” (unless your life is beyond screwed and you have nothing to lose). I think it’s pretty obvious that Social Democracy or Democratic Socialism is the only “sane” modern political order, but it’s so boring that it doesn’t attract many firebrands. Christianity-without-Christ as Dolan likes to say. Needs cheaper thrills like what is offered by fascism.

  • 31. Joe  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    @18 Its not that I disagree with you its that you are completely incoherent. Did you bother to proofread your comment? “free will mathematically doesn’t exist”? What the fuck does that even mean? You need to start taking your Thorazine again before you start talking about time cube.

  • 32. RanDomino  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Liberals are conservatives.

  • 33. Alex  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Fantastic article. I’ve been thinking that the conservative policies which would create a subjugated class were just coincidental or motivated by getting a little more money.

    All along it was so simple: They want slaves.

    Any time you hear someone saying we should cut social security, or eliminate public education or lock down the money supply with gold, or make poor people pay “their fair share” of taxes, that person wants slavery.

    It seems to me we should start calling them out on it.

  • 34. internal exile  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    This article is like a stinging line of meth.

  • 35. Anarchy Wolf  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with Jedi mind trick. Of course I’m not entirely sure what his positions are. But more or less.

  • 36. slu  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 5:04 pm


  • 37. 6626  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 5:24 pm


    What would an instance of free will look like? Wouldn’t it necessarily be an occurrence without an antecedent, some kind of thermodynamic-law-violating something-from-nothing?

    Also, my “‘tolerance’/compassion […] line-drawing game” bit is more of a warning that if you really want to practice tolerance, you’re going to have to put up with and even defend a lot of shit that makes you uncomfortable, and you’re going to have to ditch or radically transfigure your rubric for ‘decency’.

    A lot of revolutionary types, motivated as they are by moral outrage, can’t do this, which might be why they go over to the other side sometimes.

  • 38. Fissile  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    @super390 Sorry, but Hitler wasn’t trying to built his “sales pitch on the superior Medieval past”. Hitler outright stated that Nazism was a revolutionary movement out to create a new world order. The Nazis actively recruited from amongst the membership of the German communist party. Hitler didn’t trust German businessmen, and outright despised the German aristocratic class.

  • 39. Petkov  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Yet another article masterfully crafted to elicit the favorite a Pavlovian response of the the armchairs know-nothing: jump on their keyboards and hit random keys just like a thousand monkeys in hope they show how smart they are too.
    Give it up, the more a word is used the less meaning it carries. I have YET to find a single so called “liberal” in this so called “land of freedom and democracy”.

  • 40. Lavrentij Lemko and Gustavo Millebrand  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Dear Exholes,

    Good review/screed. Chris Lemann’s _Rich People Things_ falls roughly into this category it is worth the cover price alone for the whole chapter he devoted to excoriating every NYTimes readers’ favorite Burkean solipsist-chipmunk, David Brooks.


    Lavrentij Lemko and Gustavo Millebrand, Turks and Caicos Islands

  • 41. Sean the Sorcerer  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Congratulations #18 on your dark epiphany. Yes of course the values of the Enlightenment and the white light religions are all frauds. Man is the most evil animal of all — as kings of this infernal world, how could he be otherwise?

    To #19: I must unhumbly take some credit for that article, because it was I who suggested to Ames in a rather caustic fake anti-semitic email that the best option for the Jews was to stage an “inverse Holocaust.” I guess he liked the idea.

    To #21: rivers of blood tend to flow regardless of who is in power, because again, that is the nature of life on this planet.

    Personally I think the development of conscious morality, which the religionists and liberals seem to think was god’s gift to mankind, is in reality the worst mutation in the history of this planet, and I look forward to the coming Psychopathic Singularity when the amoral psychopaths stage an evolutionary coup and put the do-gooders out of their misery permanently. Sharks and alligators have been around for 150 million years unchanged, and do you see them doing a lot of soul-searching as they rip the guts out of their prey with their teeth? Isn’t it time we learned a thing or two from species who have been on this planet a thousand times longer than us? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I plan to decorate my home with skulls and shrunken heads, perform a self-lobotomy with a sharp stick and go completely cannibal before my time is through here as an example to future generations.

  • 42. Jacob  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 9:08 pm


    “Like everyone else they are a little bit right and a little bit wrong. The trick is in finding our where and about what exactly is a toughie. But there is one thing you can be sure of. If someone on the left or the right tells you they know for certain what is right, then you know they are full of it.”

    Yeah, so as usual liberals should be mired in indecision and hopelessly concerned with “fair play”, while conservatives preserve their monopoly on certainty, and run roughshod over anyone who opposes them.
    You’re practically a stooge if you think there’s some inherent good about preserving this dynamic.

    It really is convenient when your enemies smugly refuse to fight you. I hope you go to your grave knowing that you were on the right side, while your country is taken over by your ideological arch-enemy.

  • 43. wengler  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    This article does a good job of illustrating what liberals like Thomas Frank doesn’t understand: there are more than enough people out there willing to be king of their own shitpile. They are willing to settle for much much less as long as a)they get to assume complete control and b)they get to be something other than right at the bottom.

    And here’s where conservative theory and conservative practice deviates. Conservative theory assumes the world is evil and everyone is out to get you but conservative practice relies heavily on hierarchical structures that would fall apart if most of the people in it didn’t accept their subordinate position within the organization.

    Kilpatrick also correctly points out that the conservatives are tapped out. They’ve done nothing but won over the past 30 years due to the great Corporate Sellout. ‘Change or Fight’ should be the slogan.

  • 44. noen  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    6626 said:
    “What would an instance of free will look like?”

    I don’t know how to adequately defend free will but I do know that it is an idea that we cannot do without. Without free will there is no such thing as a rational decision. In order for a choice to be rational it must be made *only* on it’s logical merits.

    “you’re going to have to put up with and even defend a lot of shit”

    This is called being an adult.

    Sean the Sorcerer said:
    “rivers of blood tend to flow regardless of who is in power, because again, that is the nature of life on this planet.”

    There is no such thing as Nature. It doesn’t exist. What does exist are possibilities. We can make different choices and it seem like we are. The world is a far less violent place than it was even a few centuries ago.

    “I look forward to the coming Psychopathic Singularity”

    We are not sharks, we cannot survive on our own. We are primates and we can survive *only* as a group. Groups that co-operate will out compete those that do not. Co-operation is setting aside one’s immediate selfish needs for the good of the whole. How one goes about subsuming one’s own will to the will of society becomes codified. Those social codes are called “morals”.

    What the far Right and far Left have in common is they are both selfish pricks willing to burn everything down for their own delusional ideals.

    “I plan to decorate my home with skulls and shrunken heads, perform a self-lobotomy with a sharp stick and go completely cannibal”

    Don’t let me stop you, put the video on YouTube while you’re at it.

    Jacob said:
    “Yeah, so as usual liberals should be mired in indecision and hopelessly concerned with “fair play”, while conservatives preserve their monopoly”

    Fortunately game theory points us to the best strategy. When you are the dominant group like the Right is your strategy should be to wield power as you describe. But for groups that are seeking to become dominant that doesn’t work. Their best strategy is to gather allies, form a coalition, work together, *compromise*, so as to overturn the ruling group.

    Failing to do so says nothing about the moral worth of those involved. The universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass if a bunch of dirty apes on some obscure planet nuke themselves until they glow. It also doesn’t care if they chose to live peacefully together.

    It’s up to us.

  • 45. baram  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Roban is Dolan?!?!

  • 46. Rick  |  November 3rd, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Check out a recent podcast of Behind the News for a good interview with Corey Robin on the book. Similar to wengler’s point, Robin notes that street bums tend to be happy if they can boss around a pet dog. Conservatives must be tapping into some primal aspect of human nature…

  • 47. par4  |  November 3rd, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Scratch a liberal and you will find a Fascist.

  • 48. Quietus  |  November 3rd, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Is Christian Democracy a form of conservatism?

  • 49. XYZ  |  November 3rd, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    6626 should be given a Fields medal for his proof (or lack thereof) that free will mathematically does not exist. Retards like him, who do know less math than slum kids in asia, have never heard of the ‘Axiom of Choice’. They never spent anytime pondering the foundations of mathematics. I am almost certain that 6626 has attended a ‘good’ college perhaps even graduate school. People like 6626 have degrees but no education.

    In fact I am convinced that poor knowledge of math and science is a major problem. Economists and financial engineers get away with lousy mathematical theories and every pundit on TV can only say ‘complex derivatives’. Liberals are so easily convinced by technobabble.

  • 50. CB  |  November 3rd, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    You know, it’s always been obvious to me that the libertarian and free market philosophies were about those with economic power having the “freedom” to exploit those without. Those in favor of this brand of “freedom” are those who have the power, or at least think they might.

    What I never understood was why people without any clear prospects for gaining sufficient economic power to come out ahead in this deal would buy into it. They must just be blinded or deluded, I assumed.

    Now it makes sense though — they know they’ll be under the boot of their superiors, but that’s okay as long as someone else is under their boot. Whether it’s minimum wage schlubs, minorities, or their wife. They may not be on top, but they’ll be on top of somebody.

    Thinking about all those not-so-well off southerners who were happy to own a single slave made it click. Thanks.

  • 51. Joe  |  November 4th, 2011 at 6:45 am

    “A liberal is a conservative with a guilty conscience.” – Bob Black

  • 52. super390  |  November 4th, 2011 at 7:15 am


    The problem with liberalism is that it was defeated by monopolistic capitalism. Are you so ahistorical that you think the New Deal era could have happened without these horrible, murderous leftists you excoriate? It was angry workers in the streets with red flags that gave FDR the organization and backbone to…

    To do what? Give the capitalists a SECOND CHANCE! Which they’ve blown again. Except now the liberals find they have no Left to back them up – BECAUSE THEY LET THE LEFT BE DESTROYED! So now liberals can’t even let the word “Socialism” escape their trembling lips.

    Every time liberals succeed in getting reforms, it means a generation of ungrateful, brain-dead consumers will grow up without any memory or education about how bad it was before the reforms. Then the Right uses the methods we should now be familiar with to lie about history and teach that generation that we were better off in the past. Eventually they get their way again. Net progress: Zero.

    So now capitalist money is funding a GOP being taken over by whackos who want to give state legislatures the right to again restrict who can vote, who talk about redistribution of wealth to the righteous, who use racist anti-crime rhetoric to justify prison slave labor.

    Looks to me that we’ll have to go all the way back to the worst crimes of the past, and then liberals will be outlawed, persecuted, and rounded up in camps.

    Then you will be just another part of the Left. And the only way out will be revolution.

  • 53. super390  |  November 4th, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Fissile @ #38

    The very term Third Reich refers to the empires of Charlemagne and the Hohenzollerns. Hitler continually used the Norsemen as models for his “future”, filled his visual propaganda with images of ancient warriors and dutiful wives, and invoked the Teutonic Knights’ conquest of what was then the wild frontier of eastern Europe to justify his plans for Russia.

    Furthermore, he continually elevated Heinrich Himmler. Himmler’s economic plan for postwar Europe? Honest to God, he was going to divide France into feudal fiefdoms, to be ruled by SS officers in the manner of the Teutonic Knights, worked by Russian serfs. Does that sound like a modernist? And Himmler’s rise began with the destruction of Ernst Rohm and the rival SA, whose plan had been for workers to overthrow the capitalists so they could return to the land. So the Maoist was killed in favor of the feudalist, at the behest of right-wing capitalists and generals.

    Even Hitler’s environmentalism was full of nostalgia. His fundamental belief was that the true German nature lay in the pre-industrial relationship of man to the land.

    In fact, the US and British war economies were far more socialistic than the Reich’s until Speer reorganized in ’44 out of dire necessity. Capitalists in those other countries were ordered to standardize production of other companies’ weapons, their workers were practically state labor battalions, government owned factories and housing were built everywhere, and in the US the process was used to favor unions and equal pay for blacks. Germany was slow in both wars to treat capitalists as anything but private contractors able to offer the government whatever they pleased. If Hitler wasn’t going to change that under the necessity of war, he must have intended his peacetime Reich to remain completely crony-capitalist.

    As for recruiting, a study done by the wartime SS of its officer corps found that, unlike the Army, the SS officer was most likely to be from a farm family. In other words, a Red State conservative jock. Farmers were a big support group in the Nazi rise to power, and so were small businessmen. Hitler wanted to recruit workers because so many of them were on the other side. But he always denounced class consciousness in favor of Aryan consciousness. Which is an essentially reactionary position.

  • 54. noen  |  November 4th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Hi super390, is this still a going concern?

    “Are you so ahistorical that you think the New Deal era could have happened without these horrible, murderous leftists you excoriate?”

    Are you so ahistorical that you think the really existing socialism we saw in the 20th century in the USSR and Maoist China was a rousing success? It’s a conundrum isn’t it? The very same ideals that lead to improvements in the US, when taken to their logical conclusion in the USSR and China lead to mass suffering and genocide. Huh, go figure.

    Has it never occurred to you that it is your *absolutism* that is the problem? What do Socialists and Authoritarians have in common? Their belief in absolutes. I don’t believe in absolutes which is why those on the Left perceive me as Satan personified but see authoritarians and kindred but mistaken souls.

    “So now liberals can’t even let the word “Socialism” escape their trembling lips.”

    Depends on what you mean. If by Socialism you mean the really existing Socialism of Lenin or Mao, or any other command economy where the state owns the means of production then no, I do not want that. No one does and we know that such real socialism is a complete and utter failure. If you mean by socialism things like unions, regulations, a market where there are *rules* that must be obeyed, well them I’m all for that.

    We get to decide how we should live. We are not forced to choose between fascism or socialism. That’s a false dichotomy. We have the right to choose to live somewhere in the middle. Where the porridge is neither too hot nor too cold but just right.

    “Looks to me that we’ll have to go all the way back to the worst crimes of the past”

    I think you’re wrong about that. I see a GOP in total disarray and in the process of completely alienating the electorate for generations. I see civil rights, gay rights, gay marriage, and publicly funded health care on the rise.

    “then liberals will be outlawed, persecuted, and rounded up in camps.”

    No they won’t, don’t be a clown You sound like Alex Jones.

  • 55. darthfader  |  November 4th, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Amen to how the American liberal-left lost their wood over anti-Communism and never got it back.

  • 56. super390  |  November 4th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Noen, we had labor unions, regulations and market rules. If you think those haven’t been pushed to the edge of extinction by modern conservatism, you are just another Clintonian/Blairite gatekeeper, whose job is to keep real radicals bound and gagged to preserve the illusion of a two-party system under capitalism. You don’t seem to mind that after the worst crash since ’29, the libertards are stronger than before the crash, the exact opposite of what happened the last time. And you still won’t answer my statement that the New Deal was a radical victory – and that its overturning by capitalists proves that reform doesn’t stick.

    As for the right being in trouble, didn’t we hear that in 2008, and 1998 after the impeachment failed, and after Oklahoma City? Check out to learn the breathtaking size and complexity of right-wing extremist activity all over the US.

    This is actually the 3rd time that right-wing property owners have led this country to the brink of disaster. Is it very radical to say “three strikes, you’re out”? Yet you only give socialists one strike.

  • 57. super390  |  November 4th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    CB @#50:

    You’ve just described the key event in the history of Southern identity, Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676. The Scots-Irish (proto-redneck) indentured servants were encouraged by a rebel to turn on their masters and the Crown. He was defeated, but the English plantation owners knew the ‘necks would have to be bought off. Their brilliant solution: spread slavery from the West Indies and dump all the ‘necks’ work on them, and hand whips to the ‘necks and tell them that they’ll get crappy land to farm, but at least they’ll get the special privilege of beating and raping blacks. Over the centuries, their descendants have become more and more supportive of extreme inequality, States’ rights and laissez faire dogma.

    Screw all the Southern apologists; that Satanic deal was the foundation of all Southern culture, and must have inspired the Northern oligarchs to attempt to cultivate hatred of incoming immigrants, with less success.

    This is the secret of American capitalism. If we’d all been WASPs, we would have developed class conflict on European lines, and the cultural imperative for workers to keep a gun to the head of the owners would have been too strong for the latter to get away with driving down our wages FOR 30 YEARS! When workers come together across the race line, they can’t be stopped.

  • 58. random idiot  |  November 5th, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I’m torn on this. on the one hand robin makes some smart observations and hammers the important point home that conservatism is nearly always re-action to progress and not some eternal sophistication. on the other hand he (due to his profession) is way too immersed in the intellectual. does anyone believe even 3% of mba mayors have read or perhaps heard of mill/burke et al.? the red heartland read one rand novel twenty years ago. nobody except the small percentage of think tank operatives/neocon smartsypants derives his thought like that.
    people are drawn to the wobbly term conservatism because they like money, property and wealth and the exercise thereof.

    also, I think he misunderstands the frank argument about voting against own interests hurrdurr. as this recent tea party study confirmed these people _love_ social democracy and the eurofag welfare state, but only for themselves (they of course don’t understand how social insurance works). imo this teatard disconnect still derives from the 50s-60s where new deal/great society economic equalisation was coupled with the american free market mantra (and not the correct somalia meme). they love it because they’re producers and hardworking and not parasites and hence deserve it. the liberal argument about race in this context is also bullshit since the teatard extends his scorn to every white male who comes near a union.

    as much as the nyt is bourgeois liberalism (and it is), academics like robin are bourgeois marxists. surely you achieve your emancipating goals by wasting more trees and mocking liberal punditry while engaging in its leftist equivalent. his dipshit bolshevism comes full front in the latter half of the above interview. boo hoo, some syndicalist types want to take over parts of their localities. “that’s not progress! we have a huge state and unless all of its functions are controlled by us, and the opposition purged, nothing has been achieved! now if you excuse me, I’ll be back in my lounge fapping to rosa luxemburg tentacle hentai fanfiction.”

  • 59. 6626  |  November 5th, 2011 at 5:39 am


    look, XYZ, i was using hyperbole, but i just don’t ‘get’ the idea of free will- it seems like its only real application is greasing the application of blame and cruelty. I mean, noble intentions aside, it didn’t do the gays much good back when everyone thought it was a choice, did it?

    i am kind of stunned that no one has commented on my lumping together performance artists and furries with gamers and anime people.

    also “wikipedia” says that one of the stances on free will is metaphysical libertarianism, so i can’t be entirely sure the Kochs aren’t covertly financing it.

  • 60. noen  |  November 5th, 2011 at 7:17 am

    HI Super360, it’s a lovely morning in socialist Minnesota.

    “If you think those haven’t been pushed to the edge of extinction by modern conservatism”

    I am aware that unions and restraint through regulation need to be strengthened. I see no conflict in my liberalism and being pro-union, pro-regulation of banks and industry, even pro universal health care. None of those make me a Leftist.

    “its overturning by capitalists proves that reform doesn’t stick.”

    There are competing factions in any society. Maintaining the balance between the extreme Right and extreme Left takes constant effort. Failing to maintain a balance between the desires of capital and the needs of the people doesn’t prove either extreme correct.

    “Check out to learn the breathtaking size and complexity of right-wing extremist activity all over the US.”

    I don’t think that websites on the internet provide an accurate measure of where opinions in society really are. Ron Paul tards dominate the internet and are strongly represented in any online poll but he is still a fringe politician in the real world. It is my sense that most people are not right wingers and in my community they are not looked on favorably.

    In my building that are a couple of individuals who I would call right-wing but they are a minority and not well liked by the others. I am more politically informed than average people but we aren’t that far apart in our beliefs. Many of these people support at least the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, believe that banks should be regulated, that we need better health care and other Liberal reforms. They DON’T want your socialist utopia but DO like some of the reforms.

    Most people are not “True Believers” in either the Right or the Left and I think that is how it should be.

    Have a nice liberal day. 😉

  • 61. atlas_lied  |  November 5th, 2011 at 9:25 am

    super390 has it right. the various ruling classes have pandered to their constituents’ latent xenophobia in order to get these otherwise downtrodden plebes to vote against their own interests. it’s hard to vote against free trade pacts when the media portrays these deals as inherently efficient and helpful to the productive sectors of the economy. unfortunately the biggest winners of neoliberal reforms have been the ruling classes, and the ruling classes have coopted and bought off both the media and much of academia. you can bash robin if you want, but it’s still a breath of fresh air in a room that’s otherwise infested with the stench of a parasitic ruling class and a thin layer of neoliberal academic propaganda.

    many of the detractors here come from the “neither left nor right” nomenklatura. unfortunately while communist/socialist/marxist ideas have been roundly discredited, even more rightwing mindsets are still being conflated with terms like “reform” and “practicality.”

  • 62. atlas_lied  |  November 5th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    some of you guys need to stop shouting “liberalism” at people like corey. being pissed off at the ruling elite =/= being a flaming marxist.

    and if you really want to get technical about these things, the most despised corporations and organizations are effectively monopolies, or dependent on the government’s largesse, or companies earning unearned income. a famous economist remarked that these companies needed to be heavily taxed to free up funds for the actual productive economy. that economist was adam smith.

  • 63. Bradford C.  |  November 5th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you for this article, SO MUCH. It finally gave me the courage I needed to eviscerate the delusional nature of lifestyle liberals.

    More quotes from that conversation:

    “Victims of “The System” of “The Society”? I gave you plenty of good reliable resources and solutions. People choose to be victims and only weak people are victims. “Victims” want people to feel sorry for them because they’re to weak to stand up for themselves and all they want is a free ride. People need to work hard to get what they want and need. People need to believe within themselves to know what they’re truth, passion and purpose in life is and not by others people’s definition of what life should be. By the way you couldn’t drag me through the mud even if you tried. I think if people would focus more on things they need rather than materialistic “things” they want, this world and your outlook would be much different. This convo is over brotha, gotta go watch Greys Anatomy (sarcasm) lol. Your a cool guy we should grab a drink sometime and chat it up. Until next time, au revoir.”

    – I’ll throw that drink in your face, you smug jerk. You acted like you were going to abandon this conversation several times, but you couldn’t because you can’t handle not having the last word when it’s clear that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    People only choose to be victims in the mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a victim of circumstance or the machinations of others IN REALITY. On the other hand, it’s painfully obvious that you have no conception of the world beyond your personal experiences and those of the rich authors you think I should waste my time reading. The only resources or solutions you’ve offered me is the option to find contentment in slavery.

    Well fuck off, honky.

    You don’t get to insinuate that good people are subhumans and then position yourself as “the better man.” Conversations don’t work that way with this guy right here, and I’ll call a spade a spade: YOU are a part of the problem, YOU are what we protest against, YOU are the well endowed wunderkind given divine right of passage to rub elbows with our lords & masters by the Grace of God.

    Well Hell has thrown open its gates to reach out and drag you into the abyss with all the other traitors to humanity. I’m your Satan, welcome to the nightmare of irrelevance.

    “Your last two post are freakin hilarious. Are you being serious? I’m a very open-minded guy and welcome all opinions and enjoy good conversations and debates. We obviously have two completely different outlooks in life, I don’t believe in any way that your theory of conceptional realism is false at all. May the force be with you Darth Sidious lol.”

    – They’re not nearly as funny as a guy with a V for Vendetta avatar insisting that he’s had “nothing but positive outcomes when it comes to the police/law enforcement.”

  • 64. super390  |  November 5th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Noen, everything you say you advocate was originally advocated only by socialists. The Communist Workers’ Party was the only party to even call for the end of Jim Crow before WW2. I don’t agree with the CWP, but you hate the Left too much to give it any credit for what “nice” liberals would never have carried out alone.

    I don’t want a socialist utopia, I want a country as far to the left as modern Germany, where workers sit on corporate boards, the government has forced the biggest sport league in the land to sell its franchises off to fan cooperatives, manufacturing is still healthy and high-quality, and the work week is 35 hours. That’s America today if the New Right hadn’t conspired to overthrow progressive institutions as detailed by Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham, whom I dare you to call an Internet crank:

    That article is proof of what wealth and an ideology of greed buys you in our system. It also paid for the fascistic Christian organizing described in my other link. It is why we will never be allowed to reach the level of Germany or Denmark without the threat of revolution – which we did have in 1932. If you’re not willing to organize mass disruption to obtain the level of equality found in civilized nations, you really don’t believe that all men are created equal.

  • 65. Rex Inutilis  |  November 5th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Hmmm, I wonder what this circle jerk adulation between Jacobins and ‘Reactionaries’ is telling us. The only difference between a Jacobin & a Reactionary is that a Jacobin uses ‘egalitarian’ as the same bait-and-switch as the contemporary Reactionary does with ‘freedom’.

    Kilptatrick unfortunately betrayed his too-cool-for-humanism stance with that last paragraph. Why did you wuss out with all that drivel about ‘decency’ and ‘civility’ (WTF is Jacobin ‘civility’? The decorum around the Temple of Reason?)? Maybe it is all the anal-retentive moralism that is the hallmark of Jacobin. One after all must be polite when back-stabbing fellow travelers.

    It must really piss of the Jacobin collective of academics and misanthropic woodwork teachers (the entire dozen) that Occupy (the only significant global left-wing initiative since the GFC) was started by a liberal fashion mag and not by their own vigorous organising. Of course Occupy will only become a ‘movement’ when it has been parasitised by Trots etc. Experiments have demonstrated that a ‘movement’ occurs three picoseconds before collapse, so it can only be viewed under laboratory conditions.

    Anyway, the entire liberal establishment was once again shocked and outraged (with many a hipster monocle falling into silken tofu). I just hope that no civil decency was harmed as all those myths exploded.

    P.S loved the collapse of ‘anarchism’ into ‘liberalism’. I mean there really is no difference between the Enragés and Al Gore.

  • 66. super390  |  November 5th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Right now I’m seeing web stories about the possibility that the NBA lockout will cause a chain of legal events that could cost the next two seasons, and even cause big-market teams to leave the league, because small-market owners would rather not play at all but refuse to sell their franchises to those who do. Of course many, many dipshits are replying to pledge their support to the infallible, hard-working, risk-taking team owners for putting those lazy, stupid subhumans in their place.

    This is an example of Robin’s democratic feudalism. If this were really about loving free markets, they should hate the owners, especially small-market owners who have demanded the lockout and the breaking of the union:

    1. Eight teams have won every NBA championship since 1986. Those teams contain most of the league’s actual market value and TV ratings. If the small-timers were competed out of existence, the survivors would make more money.

    2. The salary cap prevents free-market bidding on top players. It exists because so many owners are idiots and screwed up their payrolls that they must be restrained by outside authority (!)

    3. They go ballistic that the players say they’re over 50% of the value of the franchises, but would they mind if their hospital paid 57% of the gross to the doctors, or the military paid 55% of the defense budget to soldiers? (it doesn’t) The problem is the implication that men in suits and ties really bring little of value to the teams. What if Manuel who sweeps my office floor or the woman who brings me my coffee start thinking like that?

    4. The small-market owners bought teams that lose money every year because amazingly they always can find a buyer and sell for a big premium – you know, like flipping a house. They also hold their city governments hostage for tax subsidies and free arenas that big cities won’t give out; liberal Boston has privately-built arenas that last for generations; Red State anti-big government flyover cities scrap their schools and roads to subsidize arenas you will never remember and will be replaced in 20 years when they’re held hostage again. Anyone who says that owners are risk-takers are projecting their own egos.

    So why is it the most right-wing owners in the most right-wing cities get the most right-wing love when they’re the most socialist? Because they’re patriarchs, and their fans are Real Americans, meaning not like the players, who are only products. We fans are members of the Rockets (or Jazz or Suns) family, it says so on the calendars they send us. The players are just hired hands. Like the rosters of every “amateur” team in the Southeastern Conference (whoops, I actually almost spelled it Confederance).

    It all goes double for the NFL, the most state-socialist sports league in history. Many teabagger exceptions to true laissez faire are based on the traditions of warrior tribes; they’re critiques of capitalism for putting accounting over ethnic solidarity.

    1. Pensions and free medical to our conquering warriors, and no one else

    2. Medicare and Social Security for the old, who are the Real Americans, and cutting everything for the treacherous, un-American young (the great majority of the old are white, while only 50% of this year’s kindergarten-age children are).

    3. Of course we get to steal the oil and reward ourselves. What’s international law?

    4. State-owned mediocre colleges and city-owned NFL stadiums hold massive tribal blood rallies called “games” to simulate war and manliness, but with real profits. Meanwhile, in the luxury boxes our chieftains hobnob to remind us that they own it all; they may not even like the sport.

  • 67. Bradford C.  |  November 5th, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I’d love to see the NBA kneecapped for a few seasons. Maybe then their mouthbreathing fans could hit the books long enough to draw inspiration from the Nika riots.

  • 68. adam  |  November 5th, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I smell bastards, and truth.

    I smell ink.

    -Hunter S. Thompson

  • 69. noen  |  November 6th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Hi super360
    “everything you say you advocate was originally advocated only by socialists.”

    From the fact that policy X was advocated by the Left or the Right it does not follow that therefore every policy advocated by them is a good one. Even less that their political ideology is “true”, whatever the hell that would mean. Christians fought to end the evil of slavery but it doesn’t follow that therefore Christianity is “True”.

    I was homeless a few years ago and on the street. The building where I live could not have existed without the efforts of the very progressive church across the street but I don’t conclude that god must exist and Christianity true as a result.

    “you hate the Left too much to give it any credit for what “nice” liberals would never have carried out alone.”

    Oh I don’t hate the Left, I simply strongly object to the full implementation of their political ideology and I say so pretty directly on blogs. You get to say things on blogs in way you can’t in real life.

    I have a friend who is very much on the Left and we both go to a spirituality group lead by the church I mentioned above. The associate pastor there made a trip to Cuba last year and told us about daily life in a really existing socialist state. We had very different reactions. I am glad I do not live in anything like real socialism but my friend, well it sounded like heaven to him.

    People are different, we have different temperaments and differing needs for a feeling of social connectedness. For my friend it was not too high a price to pay to have to struggle daily just for basic necessities if that meant you lived a highly social life deeply connected to your community.

    I think that people start with their basic intuitions about “how things should be” and then we rationalize from there. Finding political truths as self evident that confirm our base presuppositions rather than reasoning “purely” and reaching objective social truths. There *are* no objective truths in politics. There is just what works, more or less, and what people want or believe they want. Nothing more.

    I also would not mind living in a US version of Germany but they are NOT socialists. They are every bit the dirty capitalists the Left despises. They do NOT have universal health care but they do have a more fair system. One that Obama’s reforms could well evolve into if given a chance.

    “That article is proof of what wealth and an ideology of greed buys you in our system.”

    You don’t have to convince me. Not only do I agree that unfettered greed is a bad thing I even have a philosophical theory for why it is a very bad thing (though it isn’t original with me). A very basic “posit” that I believe in is I reject that there is any such thing as “truth” or absolutes when it comes to social or political questions. I see both the far Right and far Left as True Believers in the One Truth (Freedom! Community!) outside of which no one can be saved.

    I suppose we need idealistic youth and that they serve their function but my time for heady idealism is long past. I like Obama’s pragmatism and his willingness to compromise because I think that in the long run that pays off. At the same time I do wish he had switched to a more aggressive strategy earlier.

    Have a nice day.

  • 70. atlas_lied  |  November 6th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Look at what Noen writes:

    “I like Obama’s pragmatism and his willingness to compromise because I think that in the long run that pays off”

    Koch Troll? Sincere idiot? What’s the difference?

  • 71. Carlo  |  November 6th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    @3, you’re probably right. Didn’t he pen a few articles for The American Conservative — Pat Buchanan’s magazine?

  • 72. James  |  November 6th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I was wrong. A true nihilist would have studied economics and gone to work for a big investment firm.

  • 73. cekman  |  November 6th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    “It follows that 21st century Conservatism is Dick Cheney’s lesbian spawn going on TV and calling the president a pussy because he refuses to torture enemies of the state.”

    You’re conflating the Cheney spawn. Mary’s the lesbian, Liz is the warmonger.

  • 74. Zhu Bajie  |  November 8th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    “so many owners are idiots”

    This is why the current crop of righties are likely to crash and burn! They are nowhere near as smart as they think they are. They are making a lot of enemies and are likely to start fighting amongst themselves. The religious fanatic and robber baron fanatics don’t really have much in common.

  • 75. ArgonHalibut  |  November 8th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Radicalism has its place, but its anger and passion ought to be tempered when considering action. You call yourself a Jacobin so I assume you know well enough why the French Revolution ended in a Caesar promising “stability” and “pride”, while that of our colonial forbears succeeded. Flaming rhetoric is all well and good (and needed in a place like the US where eloquent and articulate speech is so sparse), but if you can’t keep the black-hats from smashing everything in sight, then no one sitting in their home trying to make sense of it all will ever take the time to listen to what you say.

    What are you looking for; a replay of the New Deal where we win, or of 1780s England where Burke and his ilk do? Let us engage liberals with reason and rhetoric, not with accusation and anger.

  • 76. Bradford C.  |  November 9th, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Actually, now is the time more than ever to engage liberals with accusation and anger. They need to have a fire lit under their asses if we can ever count on them to do anything of worth for the good of society. “Reason and rhetoric” are the weapons of choice for your run-of-the-mill liberal and they DON’T WORK because the average Joe isn’t literate enough to understand rhetoric, and reason is not the end-all-be-all of human interaction.

    Human beings are emotional creatures, and you have to appeal to ALL of those emotions. Throwing out charts & facts while expecting people to make up their own minds has gotten us NOWHERE.

  • 77. Brian  |  November 9th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Great article. It makes me want to read Robin’s book all the more. One thing: The “retard” picture and caption is really offensive and I find it very unfortunate that it is there. It’s keeping me from re-posting an otherwise smart and insightful article, and it may be holding back others as well.

    I hate to sound like just another “lifestyle liberal” (because I really am not) but that is totally unacceptable.

  • 78. super390  |  November 9th, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    #75, 76 and others:

    We will all see what the American right is about when it’s unarmed left-wing protestors on one side, versus armed policemen, National Guardsmen under a teabagger governor, privatized henchmen a la Pinkertons or Blackwater or even a mob of ordinary right-wing haters. And one day, the shooting starts…

    Based on 30 years of viewing the unmitigated, murderous hatred evinced by many right-wingers and their skills to actually act on it, I think it will be our Tienanmen Square. And in the worst case, it will happen in the context of a right-wing putsch confronting a blockade of nonviolent resisters. They will not stop killing in the dozens; their true nature will come out and it will go to the hundreds or thousands, just like their ancestors used to do to blacks in towns like Rosewood or Oklahoma City, a frenzy of self-actualization by extermination.

    Then we will have the bitter amusement of watching the liberals make excuses for the “authorities”. Over years it will go all the way to civil war, as demographics demand, while white liberals die out due to their irrelevance.

  • 79. matt  |  November 9th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    “We will all see what the American right is about when it’s unarmed left-wing protestors on one side, versus armed policemen,”

    depends on what they’re armed with

    “National Guardsmen under a teabagger governor”,

    Assuming one is in office

    “privatized henchmen a la Pinkertons or Blackwater”
    Homestead: 9/7 kill death ratio, and their predecessors trying to form a union through the SEIU.

    “or even a mob of ordinary right-wing haters”
    a few of those guys showed up already, breaking windows, making death threats, and trying to gun down a Unitarian church…possible threat.

  • 80. Bradford C.  |  November 10th, 2011 at 3:48 am

    @super390 it will never have to come to civil war if we can put the fear of “God” into ’em 😉

  • 81. DeeboCools  |  November 12th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Civil War will happen again… the U.S. only lasted 90 years with the “slavery compromise” before the first one. Chattel Slavery was defeated through war, but exploitation and the fight between the northern and southern culture wages on underneath all of this, and the best and worst Americans will be willing to pick up arms in the next war

  • 82. Slovenian  |  November 12th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Checked out the “Jacobin” and it is a piece of shit. They publish that useless windbag Slavoj Žižek and whore a book of his. All I need to know about an outlet!

  • 83. Christoph  |  November 12th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    SE Cupps vs Corey Robin…. guess who wins :/

  • 84. Korvin's Friend  |  November 15th, 2011 at 10:03 am

    John Derbyshire’s review of this book included the following gem:

    I do think there is an interesting distinction to be made between the reactionary and the conservative. When someone quoted the Bible to the third Duke of Norfolk, His Grace retorted: “I never read the Scripture nor ever will read it; it was merry in England afore the New Learning came up; yea, I would all things were as hath been in times past.” That was in 1540, when New Learning included the notion that a gentleman of rank ought to be literate. The Duke, a true reactionary, was having none of it. It may not be possible to be as reactionary as that nowadays, but that’s the gold standard.

    Anyways, people are inherently unequal and fighting against inequality is a waste of time. The question is how to manage inequality, or who will have more power relative to whom. Once, power was inherited and those who ruled did so because they were born to do it. In revolutionary times, the most ruthless, brutal and amoral killers come out on top (Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, etc.). Now, in stable democracies, those who rule are the ones who are the best liars, flatterers and demagogues. This has generally been the Republicans in the USA.

    Such is the nature of progress.

    BTW given the sometiems Russian-centered nature of this website, why no mention of the greatest reactionary of them all, Konstantin Leontiev?

  • 85. Ben Hosen  |  November 18th, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Bravo, sir. You get it, and I could not have put it better. Ever the pessimist (though a loyal Dem. still- I have just a little more faith in the utility of Liberalism), I think things are worse than that already.

    The only thing missing from a true American Fascism is blood in the streets, and I fear for my #OWS friends. Alibied in advance already by RW media, Fox and AM radio dominant. I fear for us all, but canaries and mines and all that.

    I read Paxton’s “The Anatomy of Fascism” a while ago but it still rings like a fire alarm in my ears.

  • 86. Anti-capitalist  |  December 12th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Agree w/ #77. Fantastic piece. Brilliant.

    But the Down Syndrome/retard trolls complaining about the caption/picture are idiotic and dehumanizing to this comment section. Retard trolls: I know you have down syndrome, but please smarten the fuck up next time.

  • 87. internetguy  |  February 2nd, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I also felt a “click” when thinking about what conservatives are about – controlling others in diverse forms. Don’t forget USA! USA! is really about fuck all these poor brown foreigners, “we” can and will take whatever “we” want from them. (Okay, middle ground, it’s not necessarily that they gain economic benefit but they feel they do in the back of their mind at least.)

    Super390 good history lessons for me… do you have a blog or anything?

  • 88. Luis Felipe  |  February 2nd, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Fantastic review there, it’s the way they ought to be: regardless of wheter it agrees or disagrees with the book, it expands upon it.

  • 89. dzlk  |  February 24th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    By the way, it’s spelled “OH NOES”. Excellent article, otherwise.

  • 90. alwanderer  |  March 11th, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Sickos all starting from the circular firing squad that was the french revolution. Enlightened /liberalism? Give me a break.

  • 91. temmet  |  April 26th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    [i]light ’em up[/i]
    maybe it’s time to make those NRA pussies eat their words, show their true colors

  • 92. temmet  |  April 26th, 2012 at 1:38 am

    argh I hate comment rules

  • 93. Joffslap  |  April 26th, 2012 at 1:39 am

    ‘tolerance’ and ‘compassion’ allow furries and video gamers and performance artists and anime people to proliferate

    Not to mention self-important douchebags, whose feeble attempts at cleverness are eclipsed by what most of us daydreamed about in middle school. At least the furries are an entertaining sort of nutty – you’re too dull to be of any use to anyone.

  • 94. Brandon  |  August 13th, 2012 at 9:44 am

    thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. for writing this, amazing piece. linking it everywhere

  • 95. Jack Boot  |  December 19th, 2012 at 10:14 am

    A Right vs. Left Civil War II, eh?

    Its outcome can be predicted from World War II:

    At first, the Righties shall sweep all before them (they’ve spent years preparing for this, after all).

    But ere long, their tribalism, mysticism & anti-intellectualism shall cloud their judgment, leading to Stalingrad moments – not to mention Auschwitz moments.

    In the end, they’ll lose – or to be more precise, they’ll defeat themselves.

    ‘Twas ever thus…

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